The Rolling Stones Share First-Ever Live Performance of “Sympathy for the Devil”: Watch

The Rolling Stones Sympathy for the Devil live 1968 circus documentary concert Brian Jones, photo via YouTube

The Rolling Stones’ legendary 1996 concert film Rock and Roll Circus documents the band’s last performance with their original lineup in 1968. Today, they’re sharing a coveted clip that didn’t make it into the movie: The Rolling Stones’ first-ever public performance of “Sympathy for the Devil”. Watch it below.

Filmed during that December 12th, 1968 gig, the previously unreleased clip captures the raw energy of The Rolling Stones in their initial configuration with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, Ian Stewart, and then bandleader Brian Jones. It’s sourced from a Dolby 4K restoration of the concert film that’s available online for the first time.

The band had just dropped Beggars Banquet six days prior to this performance and were clearly riding high on that post-album joy in this performance. Close-up shots of Jones playing the maracas, Richards strumming his guitar, and Jagger’s always enigmatic singing make for a memorable video. So does the unexpected cameo from John Lennon, who can be seen losing his mind while dancing around the 4:53 mark. (Who can blame him? It’s an all-time classic.)

“It was an incredible shoot, I think, 36 hours or something,” said Keith Richards in a statement. “I remember not remembering everything towards the end… but it was fun… we went through two audiences… wore one out… it was great!”

Director Michael Lindsay-Hogg said he vividly remembered filming the performance at 5:30 a.m. that day, too. He aimed to frame the whole scene as if “there was no audience” at all, primarily by cutting the audience out of shots whenever possible. “[Mick Jagger] used the last shred of the great performer that he is,” he said in a statement. “The camera was right there in front of him to use as he wanted. It wasn’t observing him from a distance; it was two feet away from him and he and the cameras were molded to each other almost because he used it so wonderfully.”

November 1, 2020
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